Following in the footsteps of greatness

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Following in the footsteps of greatness thumbnailPortadown College student Ethan Williamson with his silver medal from a recent international athletics meeting.

ANNAGHMORE athlete Ethan Williamson is continuing a strong tradition of success on the track and field at Portadown College, after he returned from an international event in Athlone with a silver medal to show for his efforts.

Williamson is hoping to follow in the footsteps of one of Portadown College's most famous former pupils, Dame Mary Peters, who famously won gold in the Pentathlon in the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972.

While Williamson is still in the formative years of his career, he is showing plenty of signs of promise.

On December 10 he was part of the Ireland U16 team that took silver in the Irish Schools' International Combined Events meeting at Athlone.

The Year 11 student was part of the Ireland squad that competed against England, Scotland and Wales in five events.

Ethan competed in the 60 metre hurdles, long jump, shot-put, 200m and the 800m and his solid showing in all five events helped earn Ireland second in the table.

It marked a stunning 2016 for the Annaghmore native, who is still a relative novice to the athletics scene.

“It is only really over the last two years that I have started to take athletics more seriously.

“In my last year at Clounagh Junior High School in 2015/2016 I entered the 80 metre hurdles and the triple jump and I managed to win the District Championships, the Ulster Championships and the Irish Championships in both events!

“I had experience in the hurdles and I entered the triple jumps for a bit of craic and in the end I seemed to be quite good at it.

“That helped me qualify for the Irish team for the Combined Events meeting at the start of December.

“It was the 100th anniversary of the Irish Schools' Athletics Association this year, so they were given the chance to host the event at the AIT International Arena in Athlone and it was a great experience."

Indeed at the event in Athlone on December 10, Williamson produced solid performances in all five disciplines and managed to record a personal best in the 60 metre hurdles, crossing the finishing line in a stunning 8.66 seconds.

Williamson first took to the track and field in 2014 when he entered the District Championships when he was at Clounagh Junior High School and such was his promise in the high jump and the hurdles that he was asked to join the Rising Stars Programme.

He also joined Lagan Valley Athletics Club, where he was able to avail of the fantastic facilities at the Dame Mary Peters Track in Belfast.

Over the next couple of months Williamson will set his sights on training and preparing for the new outdoor season, which starts in the spring.

“We don't really have much of an indoor athletics scene in Northern Ireland because we don't really have the facilities.

“I'm in the Indoor Youth Academy programme, which is primarily based out of the University of Ulster in Jordanstown.

“It is a performance based programme and we have a dedicated programme for Strength and Conditioning, nutrition and various other things.

“It is a really professional set up and I go to that every Monday and Friday after school."

The versatile Year 11 student is also heavily involved with the Medallion rugby team at Portadown College and he is busy preparing for the Medallion Shield competition.

He admitted that it can be a difficult juggling act to keep it all going!

“I would be out training around six or seven times a week but school work always take priority with me especially with my GCSEs coming up.

“It would be easy for me to not go to a rugby sessions here or there, but you don't want to let your teammates down."

The Orchard County Primary School past pupil isn't resting on his laurels on the high jump or hurdles next spring.

He has his sights set on mastering the pole vault at next spring's District Championships.

“Next season I'd love to continue to dominate the hurdles and the high jump events and I'm more than likely going to give the pole vault a go as well!

“I've a background in gymnastics and it is an event that appeals to me and I'll be training to get ready for that event come the District Championships next spring."


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